Lethal White by Robert Galbraith Sphere, £20, 650 pages  When it was revealed that the crime writer Robert Galbraith was really the megaselling JK Rowling, reviewers (and readers) were obliged to do some retrospective catching up. But now each Galbraith title is an event, and this fourth book is the most ambitious – and lengthy – yet. Beginning with a set piece reminiscent of The Graduate (will ungainly private eye Cormoran Strike torpedo the ill-advised wedding of his ex-assistant Robin Ellacott?), we’re soon knee-deep in a tangled scenario. Strike and Ellacott are nursing wounds from their encounter with a killer when the detective is persuaded by disturbed young man to look into a crime he thinks he saw as a child. Soon the duo are taking a dangerous odyssey from the hidden recesses of Parliament to the upscale homes of the hyper-rich. While some may balk at the Proustian length here, Galbraith/Rowling has not lost her sure touch: Strike and Ellacott remain a quirkily individual team, and the plotting is as outrageously entertaining as ever.

Gallows Court by Martin Edwards Head of Zeus, £18.99, 407 pages  Martin Edwards is a noted expert on the British Golden Age of crime fiction; his new book marks an intriguing change of direction, paying homage to the legacy of vintage thrillers but introducing an urgency and sense of dark menace that is notably contemporary. In 1930s London, a series of macabre killings have made the streets unsafe for women. But Rachel Savernake is unlike most of her sex — she is the daughter of a famous hanging judge, and has already nonplussed Scotland Yard by cracking a case known as the ‘Chorus Girl Murder’. Now she is tracking down a new killer — but her methods are (to say the least) extreme. Journalist Jacob Flint is convinced that there is much more to her than her deductive abilities – but he has no idea how much. Evocative period detail, twist-packed plotting and a fascinatingly enigmatic anti-heroine.

 

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